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Data analytics in exams

Chartered Accountants are increasingly using more advanced approaches to interrogate client data. Embedding these techniques within our exams ensures that we continue to reflect the current and future workplace and will also help to develop your judgement, professional scepticism and critical thinking skills.

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Data analytics in exams

The use of data analytics in exams is split into two sections. Data analytics software, which has already been introduced to exams in 2021, and the use of spreadsheet functionality, which is being introduced in exams in 2022. To support you with these changes we have developed the resources below.

Data analytics software

We have introduced data analytics software into ACA exams, specifically the Audit and Assurance and Corporate Reporting exams.

Find out more

Use of spreadsheet functionality

We are introducing three categories of data analysis into exams in 2022. These include structuring and assimilating data, statistical calculations and financial functions.

Find out more

Spreadsheet functionality

A number of new spreadsheet functions will become part of the 2022 learning materials and skills required of students in the following exams: Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management. These include three broad areas of data analysis within the exam software.

  • Data assimilation and visualisation

    To structure and assimilate data, a variety of spreadsheet logical functions could be used. These functions can be combined to filter, sort and restructure data provided in a pre-populated spreadsheet. This enables data to be scrutinised to identify trends and patterns that can be presented to management in a variety of formats appropriate to the purpose in context.

  • Financial functions

    Financial functions in spreadsheets are useful in determining common measures in finance such as IRR. They save time in performing extended calculations. This will not just enable the calculations to be made in the first instance, but a variety of adjustments to the base data can be made, for example to test sensitivity and gain an understanding of the key variables impacting risk, as would be the case in data analysis in the workplace.

  • Statistical analysis
    Spreadsheet statistical functions enable students to carry out statistical calculations quickly without extensive mechanical calculations, or the need to memorise statistical formulae. This gives a focus on understanding the data provided and interpreting the statistical results.

Spreadsheet functionality in exams

Within the Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management exams you may be examined in the following ways:

  1. Data will be provided in the question, and you should populate the spreadsheet based on the data in the question.
  2. A spreadsheet will be provided in the exam with pre-populated data for you to structure, assimilate, interpret and evaluate.

Below is a list of functions you need to be familiar with based on which exam you are sitting.

Functions

Business Strategy and Technology

Financial Management

Strategic Business Management

Data assimilation and visualisation

AVERAGE

COUNTIF

COUNTIFS

IF*

RANK

SUM

SUMIF

Statistical analysis

CORRELATION

STD DEV

Financial functions

IRR

MIRR

NPV

POWER

PV

RATE

 

 

 

General

Absolute cell references (eg, $A$1 is a fixed reference to cell A1)

Formatting (eg, to 0 decimals, Currency £ and Percentage % )

*Nested IF statements could be used in Strategic Business Management

Support and guidance

To support you with these changes we have developed a series of videos on basic spreadsheet functions to aid your understanding as well as specific guidance for the Financial Management, Business Strategy and Technology and Strategic Business Management exams which will be available soon on the relevant exam resources web pages.

Excel Community and training

The Excel Community is our 'one-stop' shop for all things Excel. Here, you will be provided with the tools you need to develop your Excel skills, along with a host of time-saving tips and tricks to help you utilise Excel in your studies and at your work. You will have access to articles, webinars and Excel online training. You need to subscribe to Faculties Online for free to access the Excel Community.

Access the community

Data analytics software

ICAEW has introduced data analytics software into ACA exams, starting with the Audit and Assurance exam and Corporate Reporting.

You will need to be familiar with how the software works and its various functions. It is therefore important that you work through the relevant explanatory guidance notes, using the practice datasets that we have created. You should then attempt the practice questions.

Introduction to data analytics software

Discover more about the data analytics software with this introductory video.

Data analytics software - live webinar

Watch the live webinar including demonstrations of the data analytics software and a live Q&A.